Sunday, August 24, 2008

learn from mistakes? i usually don't.

soon i shall be embarking on a fantastic trip - gastronomic bonanza if you will - to the city by the bay. with such a trip on the horizon i've been trying to save my pennies. san francisco is not cheap and since i plan on eating and drinking my way to oblivion i'm gonna need some cash.

hence my thrown together dinner the other night. after a rough day in the basement and an equally rough night of laundry and cookie dough (more on that later) i scanned my fridge and cupboards.

(1) frozen chicken breast
(2) potatoes and sweet corn from the barton pickin' patch
(3) fresh herbs

these items had potential.

first i snipped some fresh thyme and some chives. i coarsely chopped thyme and garlic together and rubbed it all over my chicken breast.

then i seared the breast (skin side down) in a lil' olive oil in my dutch oven. (i love my dutch oven. stove top to oven to table. marvelous!)

then i flipped it and seared the other side. i probably should have let the skin side go for a little longer but i was impatient and hungry.

something i always seem to forget - garlic burns easily. very easily. at first the aroma of the searing chicken was fabulous but then all of the sudden i caught a whiff of burnt garlic. shit!! how many times do i have to learn this lesson? hopefully i won't forget again since i am actually taking the time to document my mishaps here.

so i lifted the chicken out of the dutch oven and scraped out some of the burnt garlic chunks. (rats!!) then i dropped the chicken back in and put in into the oven to finish off.

while the chicken breast was in the oven i boiled three small red potatoes. i left the skins on and i left them whole. i also put on water for the sweet corn. when the potatoes were tender i took them out and gently pressed them down flat - inspiration supplied by the pioneer woman's crash hot potatoes

i checked on the chicken and it needed just a few more minutes so i plopped my smushed, buttered & salted potatoes right in alongside it for a few more minutes of roasting.

while those were finishing up i boiled my sweet corn - just a few minutes - and i chopped up some chives for my potatoes.

here's dinner.

i paired this meal with a mojito because they are so, so, so delicious. despite the burning of the garlic early on this turned out to be a pretty darn good dinner. plopping the potatoes down in the chicken juices to finish off was a good idea.

so i mentioned cookie dough earlier. i don't want to toot my own horn or anything but i am kinda known for my oatmeal cranberry cookies. i take them to events and to family gatherings and i always pass them out as gifts around the holidays. people like 'em. i like 'em. the woman i work with likes 'em enough that she gave me $10 to make her some. she said she had a craving. ha!

i doubled it so i had a ton of dough and i let it chill in the fridge while i made (and ate) my dinner. with so much dough i had a long night ahead of me.

this is just the beginning.

and this was just about halfway through.

i ended up stopping shortly after this due to sheer exhaustion. using another pioneer woman tip i rolled up the remaining dough into a log and wrapped it in wax paper. i put that inside a freezer bag and i figure i'll surprise my co-worker one day with a couple more cookies.

i'll be taking a break here for that big gastronomic bonanza i was talking about. i'll return with photographs, detailed notes and i'm sure a couple of good stories.

Monday, August 18, 2008

THIS is what i am fucking talking about

after a shitty golf game mike and i stopped by his parent's house to raid their garden. we got potatoes, tomatoes, sweet corn, acorn squash and blackberries. woohoo! when we got home it was too late to eat so i got to take a ton of stuff home with me in the morning. what to do with a giant bag (like 3 cups or so) of fresh picked blackberries?


and, it just so happens my good friend kp makes the best pie crust this side of the mississipi. here was the deal - i would trade kp a pork chop dinner for a pie crust. thankfully she agreed.

i also had three peaches i picked up from szalay's.

i made the filling.

kp made the crust.

it's the best pie crust i've ever tasted. i'm serious. better than my gma's, my mom's , pretty much anyone i've ever met. she has a gift. a gift for flaky, delicious pie crusts.

she even churched up the top a little.

for dinner i decided on smashed pots (still had a lil' buttermilk. it lasts forever), roasted acorn squash and pork chops. i cut the squash in half and cut a lil' piece off the end so it would stand up. i put them cut side down in a loaf pan with a lil' water at 375 degrees. these were in there for a while. i'm not sure how long. just cook it until you can stick a fork in it easily.

once they are tender drain the water from the pan and flip the squash so the cut side is up. i put a few teaspoons of butter and brown sugar in the center of each squash and mashed it up a little bit. then back in the oven to finish off.

here's the squash and the pie cooking at the same time.

while that was going i cut up and boiled two potatoes. after about 10 minutes i put a skillet on medium high heat and once it was nice and hot i put a lil' olive oil in the pan. oh - before that i took my two pork shops and sprinkled some lawry's seasoning salt and stuck a piece of rosemary onto one side.

i seared one side and then the other just for a couple of minutes. then i put the whole pan into the oven and cooked them until they reached about 150 degrees.

here are the chops.

i covered them with foil in the pan and let them rest for about 5-7 minutes. during that time i smashed the potatoes with some butter, buttermilk, salt and pepper. i still had a little dill left so i chopped it up and stirred that in too.

and here's dinner.

fantastico! i paired this meal with an in-heat wheat cuz i had one hangin' out in my fridge from the weekend and the molson canadians that kp brought over were in her cooler all the way out on the porch.

and here's dessert a hour or so later.

here are my friends kp, mk and aNw. they like pie.

i decided we should have mojitos with our pie. then i realized i was lacking some essentials. i had the rum and the fresh mint but my ice cube trays were filled with barely frozen cubes, i did not have club soda (i did have tonic water) and i didn't have fresh lime slices (i did have a bottle of lemon juice). i improvised and concocted the strongest, strangest mojitos in town.

they went nicely with the pie.

but really, what doesn't go well with a homemade peach blackberry pie?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BLT hold the L add some O

i don't get paid until friday and i have $10 in my wallet. this does not equate to "fine dining" this equates to "use all the leftover crap in my fridge and pantry." i scrounged around and found the following items:

(1) 4 strips of bacon left over from my mess o' greens
(2) 3 slices of rye bread
(3) a bag of small peeled onions from mike's garden
(4) a tomato from my grandma's garden
(5) 3 potatoes from mike's parent's garden
(6) 1/2 a package of cream cheese
(7) some buttermilk
(8) a few sprigs of dill
(9) questionable bag of a few leaves of romaine lettuce
(10) a nice lil' pickling cuke right out of my garden

whoa! what a bounty! dinner should be no problemo. i decided on garlic smashed potatoes and a blt. to get started i cut up my potatoes and peeled three cloves of garlic for roasting.

i enjoyed a leinenkugel's berry weiss while preparing my dinner because a friend left three of them in my fridge this weekend. it is sweet - very sweet - and i can't really drink more than one at a single sitting. not bad though and the fact that it was free made it that much better.

next i put my garlic cloves in a lil' foil packet with some olive oil to roast.

it is much better to do a whole bulb of garlic (unpeeled) but i was only making potatoes for one so that seemed unnecessary. plus, i only had a few cloves.

here it is roasting away.

if you do a whole bulb you can peel the cloves off and squeeze one end and the warm, gooey garlic oozes right out. ooze it onto some good crackers. YUM!

while the garlic was roasting i started to boil my potatoes and fry my bacon. while that was stuff was boiling and frying away i washed and chopped my veggies. it turns out the questionable bag of leftover romaine was more than questionable. it had seen better days. much, much better days. when your lettuce is slimy it is time to say good bye. poop!
how would i make a blt without the lettuce?

how about a bot - bacon, onion and tomato. sounds good to me!

here are my supplies for the smashed potatoes.

leftover city. i used the buttermilk to make delicious homemade biscuits for my saturday brunch contribution of biscuits and gravy. i used the cream cheese (well, half of this package and two other packages) to make those wonderful bacon wrapped jalepeno thingies as my 'dish to pass' for the annual patio party. (HUGE success again! people freakin' love those things!) and i picked up the dill the other day just for kicks.

i drained the potatoes once they were fork tender and tossed 'em back in the pan. i added the roasted garlic, about 2 tablespoons or so of cream cheese, a lil' buttermilk and some salt and pepper. then i smashed.

next i toasted 2 of my 3 slices of rye bread and shmeared 'em with some mayo. hellman's only please. miracle whip makes me want to puke. plus it isn't even mayo. it's freakin' salad dressing. it was a light shmearing. i don't like too much mayo and when i order blt's out (which i do a lot cuz it is my favorite sammich) i always ask for the mayo on the side.

then i constructed my bot. here it is missing its top half.

and here is the finished product.

i topped the smashed potatoes with some of the chopped up dill and as a side i enjoyed the rest of the tomato and some slivers of cuke. i paired this meal with a 312 - one of my favorite wheat beers (especially after i visited the brewery in chicago last year!)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

mess o' goodness

my boyfriend has a green thumb. electric, neon green. his garden always kicks ass and the bags of goodies he sends home with me totally rock. this summer he tried his hands at growing collard greens (one of my all-time favorite foods on the planet) and no surprise - they've been a total success.

look at these babies!

i cut the thick stems off and then stacked the leaf halves on top of each other and roughly chopped them into big squares.

i set those aside and started frying up a couple of strips of bacon in a big pot. i browned the bacon and then took it out of the pot and crumbled it up. i chopped up half of an onion, threw it into the bacon grease and cooked it until soft and brown. then i put the bacon back in the pan and tossed in the greens. i wilted these for about 5-7 minutes.

then i poured in a can of chicken broth.

(no product placement here!)

i put a lid on the pot and simmered the greens over medium heat for about 45 minutes or so. these are pretty bitter if you don't really cook 'em down and they are so awesome at the end that they are totally worth the time.

once the greens were done i topped them off with my boyfriend's dad's homemade hot vinegar (he also has an electric green thumb and a lot of time on his hands.)

to compliment the greens i just boiled up some perogies. usually i'll boil them and then fry 'em for a minute or two in a pan with some butter and caramelized onions. this night i was too hungry and after spending an hour on greens i just wanted to eat.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

IHOP's got nothin' on me!

my friend xenia from the blogger realm said she has been craving IHOP cuz apparently, "they don't have fluffy american pancakes" in her neck of the woods. this of course was after my rant about why going out to breakfast sucks. i stand by that rant and decided that sunday i would test myself by cookin' up some pancakes.

since i did not travel to black out island saturday night i was able to get up and get to the grocery store at a reasonable hour. also, it was pay week so i splurged and picked up some sausage links. i got the maple flavored ones. yum. yum. yum.

my favorite pancake recipe is an old standby and can be found in the joy of cooking. here's what it looks like inside my edition.

wow. that photo sucks. you should probably own a joy of cooking anyways. go pick one up. get it from the library if you must just so that you can write down this recipe and the one for banana bread. YUM!

speaking of bananas -
i always seem to have rotten ones lying around.

i decided to make use of this one and i mashed it into the pancake batter. this is really, really good.
i've done it before and i'll do it again!

while i was whippin' up this batter i started cookin' up a few of those sausage links in a lil' skillet and i got my griddle nice and hot. (i LOVE my griddle/grill. it rules. get one of these too.)

once it was nice and hot i used a 1/4 c. measuring cup to pour the batter out onto the griddle. when they get bubbles that start bursting they are ready to flip.
these ones are just about ready to flip.

they should look like this:

i loaded these babies up with real butter (again - fuck margarine!) and a lot of maple syrup! i poured maple syrup all over the maple sausage links too. outta sight!!

(historical side note - when i was a youngster i didn't like syrup cuz i hated to have sticky hands. wtf?! what a neurotic little nut case i was. man, i missed out on a lot when i was a kid!)

the other day i mentioned that although the egg-in-a-hole (aka picture frame eggs according to the viper) was delicious it would likely not replace my usual hungover weekend breakfast of dippy eggs and fried potatoes and it has not. last saturday i whipped up my favorite breakfast simply because it is my favorite.

here is what it looks like:

dippy eggs are rather self explanatory. you crack two eggs in a hot pan and when they are lookin' about done you flip 'em and let 'em cook for just a few more seconds and you're good to go. the potatoes though - i'll go ahead and break those down so you can give 'em a whirl.

i use red potatoes. i like to cut them up in little cubes. however, before i do that i slice up about 1/2 an onion and toss it into a hot pan with both butter and olive oil. once they start to brown i toss in the potatoes and sprinkle the whole mess VERY liberally with lawry's season salt and cook 'em until they are nice and crispy. so good. so very, very good.

now please, please, please do me a favor and cook your own breakfast from here on out! you can do it and i guarantee it will be better than any over priced crapola you'll get out there!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

fine mexican dining

you are about to learn the secret to authentic mexican cuisine. the best of the best. muy delicioso. and all for just $1.99!

ok. so i lied. there is nothing authentic or delicioso about a $1.99 food club taco kit. however, when times are tough and you feel like entertaining tacos aren't half bad. i ain't too proud and thankfully neither were my dinner guests!

i had about a pound of ground beef in my freezer from the last cousin's dinner, a few leaves of romaine lettuce from my lunchtime salads, a single tomato, (on it's way out but shhh! don't tell), about a quarter of a brick of cheddar cheese and half a container of sour cream. i also picked a few green onions from my garden.

since i just recently used my last can of black beans i opted for some rice as a good filler. i made it using chicken broth instead of water (thanks mrs. weitz for the tip). i cooked the ground beef in a skillet and after it was drained i added the magical food club "taco seasoning." i washed and chopped all my veggies, grated some cheese and cooked the shells in the oven for about 7 minutes.

my friend megos brought over some chips and salsa and we all opted for the taco salad over the regular stuffed tacos. i've been doing this forever and i find it a much better way to eat 'em. i crush up 2-3 shells and then add all my fixin's. delish!

here's proof! hardly anything left!

after we all pigged out we watched a marvelous movie: the testament of dr. mabuse. scary! awesome! check it out!